Monday, 30 June 2008

Author Interview! Jaine Fenn

Having read and reviewed Jaine Fenn's debut sci-fi novel, 'Principles of Angels, I thought it would be really cool to put some questions to Jaine and see what her answers were. Jaine very kindly agreed to answer my questions and these were her answers...

Hi Jaine, thanks for agreeing to take part in this interview!

Your debut novel, ‘Principles of Angels’, is now on the bookshelves. Have you found yourself going into bookshops and rearranging the shelves so that your book is the first thing that shoppers see?
I’ve actually only got into two bookshops since the book came out, and one of those I was doing a signing in. But yes, I suspect I might not be able to resist in future.

For those people who haven’t seen a copy yet, can you sum up ‘Principles of Angels’ in ten words or less?
Revelation, redemption and flying assassins in a floating City.

What made you decide to write science fiction?
Lack of boundaries. So many worlds to explore, so many possibilities…

Are there any writers (sci-fi or otherwise) that have inspired you in your work?
Off the top of my head and in no particular order: Ian (M) Banks (both his SF and non-SF), William Gibson, Geoff Ryman, H P Lovecraft, Mary Gentle and Raymond Chandler.

When you were writing ‘Principles of Angels’ was it the setting or the characters that came to you first?
Setting, just. It was more the set-up, which brought the characters with it.

You put your main characters through a lot, which one was the most fun to write?
Taro. He really shouldn’t be allowed out by himself.

‘Principles of Angels’ features assassins called ‘Angels’ and a mysterious alien race called the ‘Sidhe’. Is there an element of fantasy hidden in your work or are you all about the sci-fi?
Oh dear, you’ve sussed me! Actually I love the tropes of SF – interstellar civilisation, weird tech, alien perspectives – but unlike a lot of SF writers I prefer stories driven by characters rather than by ideas. So definitely ‘soft’ SF. A lot of my more sexy technology conforms to Clarke’s Third law (i.e. it’s all but indistinguishable from magic)

Will the Sidhe be a recurring feature in future books or is there a larger universe to explore first?
There’s a whole lot more to find out about the Sidhe. And a whole lot more universe to explore too.

You mention in your blog that you have been dubbed one of the ‘Three Princesses of Fantasy’ (even though you write sci-fi!) Who are the other two Princesses and why should we be reading their books too?
They are fellow Gollancz debut authors Alex Bell and Suzanne Mcleod. Alex’s contemporary supernatural mystery ‘The Ninth Circle’ is a very atmospheric book which pulls the reader in from page one and has some plot twists that made me smile (in a wicked way); Suzanne’s first book, ‘The Sweet Scent of Blood’ is out in September, though I’m hoping to get an advance copy as it sounds intriguing; she has Sidhe too, but hers are rather different, and occur in a contemporary fantasy setting.

You also mention in your blog that your next book, ‘Consorts of Heaven’, is in the process of being submitted to the publisher. Can you tell us anything about what will be happening in this book? You’re allowed more than ten words to do it in this time!
‘Consorts of Heaven’ is not technically a sequel to ‘Principles of Angels’, as it starts several months before the action in ‘Principles’ and it’s set on a different world, one which is far lower tech and more like a fantasy setting. However, though it is not immediately obvious, the two stories are intimately linked, and the (surviving!) characters from the two books are now on a collision course.

Having now got one book under your belt was ‘Consorts of Heaven’ easier or more difficult to write?
In some ways a little easier, as I learnt a lot about the craft of writing working on ‘Principles’. But ‘Consorts’ was harder work, as I only had a year, and towards the end it rather took over, at the expense of everything not required for actual survival.

Finally, you’re an established short story writer but ‘Principles of Angels’ is your debut novel. Do you have any advice for any ‘would be’ writers who are looking for the break that you got?
Polite persistence. It’s very easy to get disheartened by those form rejections, but all we can do is try our best. And remember to write, first and foremost, for yourself, because whilst you may be your own harshest critic at times, you should also be your target audience.

Thanks for your time Jaine, I really appreciate it.

Photo courtesy of James Cooke.
Read my review of 'Principles of Angels' Here.
For more information on Jaine Fenn and her work, click Here for her website.

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